Smash, which finished its run on NBC just about a week ago, was certainly a lot of things, and inspired a lot of mixed responses in those who watched the show. Even those who defended it fervently couldn’t claim it was consistently good.
What most people CAN agree on, however, was that the original musical contributions, largely by Broadway composition team Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, were mostly pretty great. Sometimes stirring, sometimes zesty, and always catchy, these songs were easily the weekly highlight of the show.
So it is with much excitement that I share this newly published blog post by Marc Shaiman himself! With the show now behind him, he breaks his silence on the challenges of producing a weekly series with “too many cooks in the kitchen” (albeit all well-meaning and talented ones). He also offers his personal insights on EVERY SINGLE SONG HE WROTE.
In addition to insights on things like the turnaround and approval process, the obstacles, “the infamous Bollywood number” (“SET UP IS EVERYTHING”, he advices), and orchestrations from the likes of Michael Starobin and Jonathan Tunick, there are also some really great blurbs in there, including these gems.
On the title song, “Smash!”: “We wrote this song to be a theme song for the show, but it was deemed too “musical theatre-y”. Yes, the show was about musical theatre, but…hey!”
On the Derek-ified “I Got Love”: “The plot called for a different arrangement of the same song, one that would allow Jennifer to show off a more sensual feeling. I pretended Bob Fosse was smoking beside my piano and this is what he and I came up with.”
On Liza: “And let it be known, we shoehorned the word “terrific” in [“A Love Letter from the ‘Times’] just to get to hear her say her iconic word in our song. And then she went and never said it like Christine Pedi would! I ALMOST called Christine to come over and edit her in on that word so that it would be “ctherrific!”.”
There are dozens more frank, hilarious, and interesting stories to be told from the man himself.
Here’s the link. Enjoy!
[Smash is over. But, we’re not done. Starting soon – John Dellaporta and guests talk weekly about the episodes of that great made-for-TV show about theatre, Slings and Arrows.]
Marc Shaiman and co-lyricist Scott Wittman wrote or adapted 41 songs for Smash. For this song in his Facebook reveal “Goodbye Norma Jean”, Shaiman says “Kat, without exaggeration, sang this vocal in a broom closet we found in the theatre we were shooting in and we all decided not to try to top it.”